Babies. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They’re innocent and loveable, and the best versions of us because they have not yet had the chance to commit mistakes and mess things up. They are our offspring and without them we would not be here, since, I mean we had to pass the “baby stage” to get to adulthood right? And its important that we never forget that. But if that’s the case then why are babies getting the short end of the stick?
As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently expecting a little bundle of joy myself and so I have entered this new world of baby gear, diapers, feeding guidelines, old wives tales and endless advice that is the world of parenting. And so far, I have to say that I’m a little shocked. It seems that many of the products that are available for our children are harmful in some way, shape or form. Aristotle is often quoted saying “You can judge a nation by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens”. I wonder what he would say about us after learning about some of the products out on the market targeted for our little ones.
Take diapers, for example. Leading companies like Proctor and Gamble (the makers of Pampers and Luvs) and Kimberly Clark (the makers of Huggies)- that sell millions of diapers per week, have some very questionable practices. Not even mentioning the fact that disposable diapers in general produce more waste to sit in landfills, the very materials that go into them are shocking. Disposable diapers contain dioxin as a result of the bleaching process they use to give the diapers their traditional look. This chemical has been linked to or caused “cancer, reproductive & infertility problems, asthma & respiratory distress, hormonal problems, developmental & cognitive problems, suppressed immune system, diabetes, endometriosis, allergic reactions, chemical burns, Chloracne, and Toxic Shock Syndrome (in the use of tampons)”. Sodium Polyacrylate, a super absorbent polymer that can absorb 300 times its weight in tap water, is the “diaper gel” used in wet diapers. This chemical is a skin irritant and potential respiratory tract irritant. Workers in the diaper factories that are exposed to these chemicals have specific instructions on first aid, but nothing for our babies that are wearing them ALL. THE. TIME. There are also reports of other harmful chemicals found in the diapers such as Tributyltin, Xylene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Propylene, and Toluene. *
That’s a pretty harsh line up for such little things, especially since babies’ skin is way more sensitive than ours and uh, oh yea they can’t really talk. So it’s hard for them to say “take these hazardous poop-catching death devices off of me please! I’m uncomfortable.”
Here is a great visual from Honest.com: https://www.honest.com/whats-inside/diapers
So, as if toxic diapers weren’t bad enough there is the issue of baby formula. Of course, breastfeeding is by far the best way to go when feeding your baby, but for the mamas that cannot breastfeed there are not many other options. Now, assuming that the bottles are BPA free (because we can’t even trust the quality of the bottles anymore these days) there are very few completely healthy options to choose from. If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients in baby formula, you’ll see things that even we as adults should not be consuming: such as high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and cows milk. These ingredients promote chronic disease. In addition, the ingredient manganese which is found in high concentrations in baby formula, especially soy-based formulas, is a neurotoxic chemical that has been linked to behavioral problems such as ADHD later in life. Problems with polluted tap and bottled water, packaging, excess metals and fungal toxins are also reasons to why formula is so unhealthy for babies.
Infant formula is so unhealthy for babies, the Natural Resources Defense Council directly blames aggressive marketing of infant formula in underdeveloped countries for “an epidemic of infant death from malnutrition and diarrheal illness, a result of the contaminated water used to dilute or reconstitute formula.” **
So what is a parent to do? If you can, go organic. While it may not be 100% toxin-free, it is still a better option than the other stuff. There are many varieties of biodegradable, unbleached, organic diapers. The Honest Company (https://www.honest.com/reg-lp1) has a great product that is biodegradable, toxin-free, and very cute! You can also cloth diaper- while it may be a little more expensive upfront it is softer on your baby’s skin, better for the environment, and has fewer chemicals. Also, look into diaper services if you can. They pick up and deliver, on a weekly or monthly basis, cloth diapers. They even clean them for you and everything, and many times at a better price than buying disposable ones outright. As for formula, there are few formulas that I have found in all of my research that are actually 100% organic, but one that has gotten many positive reviews and that I hopefully plan on feeding my own child is Holle, a European brand that is produced from 99% organic ingredients. The other 1% being vitamins and minerals. If you would like to order it you can here (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Holle-Organic-Infant-Formula-1-400g-/261279428177#vi-content). Besides formula, you can also look into milk banks. Mothers who have extra milk donate/sell theirs so that other babies can have some of that deliciousness too. This is a really good option if you can afford it. To find out more info on breast milk banks in North America click here (https://www.hmbana.org/) And you could always try finding a wet-nurse like in the old days. A wet-nurse is another lactating woman who is willing to feed your baby for you if you cannot. Unfortunately this practice is not too common anymore in our society, and you have to really trust the woman and should probably have her screened for health problems just in case. Still, it’s better than formula.
Best of luck in your child-rearing endeavors. I hope that one day we will not have to search the corners of the earth just to provide our children with healthy products.
*If you would like more info on these dastardly diapers check out (http://awesomebeginnings4children.com/the-harmful-chemicals-in-disposable-diapers/).